Fraud in the U.S. Student Visa Program?

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 57

By Mark Krikorian and Jon Feere on June 9, 2022

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Allegations in a recent whistleblower lawsuit raise serious questions about the extent of fraud in the foreign student program and the ability of the federal government to provide proper oversight.

More than 15,000 school campuses in the United States host more than 1.2 million foreign students. All of these schools are certified by a division within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) called the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Each school names a staff liaison, called a Designated School Official (DSO), to maintain records in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a national security database created after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The New York Post recently reported that a DSO at Columbia University filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming to have been fired for refusing to enter false information about some foreign students into SEVIS the school’s request.

In today’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, Jon Feere, a former ICE Chief of Staff and the Center’s Director of Investigations, calls on SEVP to launch a review of Columbia University’s foreign student program. He explains how schools that fail to abide by important national-security-focused regulations may lose the privilege of enrolling new foreign students for at least one year. Will SEVP act? If not, will Congress?

CIS fellow David North has long covered so-called “visa mills”, schools that provide little in the way of education and exist mainly to provide foreigners with visas and work permits. But potential visa fraud at a top-ranked school stands out; is it merely the tip of the iceberg?

In his closing commentary, Mark Krikorian, the Center’s Executive Director and host of Parsing Immigration Policy, highlights a Washington Post article on Mexican law enforcement tracking American fugitives and deporting them to the U.S. No one in the article expressed concern with Mexico deporting a criminal alien, even one who claimed to have gone to Mexico "for a better life". But in the United States, the scene plays out differently, both as a policy matter and in the media.


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Jon Feere is the Director of Investigations at the Center for Immigration Studies.


ICE Must Investigate Columbia University’s Foreign Student Program in Light of Fraud Allegations

The Dregs of Higher Education Damage Our Immigration System

We’re Not Sending Our Best


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".